The International Cup and Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial doubleheader highlight the final weekend of fall polo at Grand Champions Polo Club.
By Sharon Robb
The Legends of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial continues the Hall of Famer’s legacy by honoring one of the sport’s greats, who died tragically in February, 2014 at age 53.
The Mexican-American polo player reached 10 goals at age 25. Born in Mexico City he was a member of the Gracida polo dynasty, He began playing when he was only five years old and began competing at age ten.
In 1994 Gracida won nearly every possible tournament in the game, including the Argentine Triple Crown of Hurlingham, Tortugas and Palermo. That same year, he also won the U.S. Open and the British Open Gold Cup, becoming the only player in history to win the Grand Slam of Polo, in 1987, a feat he replicated twice in 1988 and 1994. He became a U.S. citizens two months before his death.
The Legends Of Polo Carlos Gracida Memorial fun teams feature players from the International Cup with two U.S. and two Spanish players on each team. The rosters are:
Gracida Yellow (14): Pelayo Berazadi, 5, Nicolas Ruiz Guinazu, 4, Santos Bollini, 2, Juan Bollini, 3.
Gracida Green (14): Nic Roldan, 8, Louis Devaleix, 1, Nicolas Alvarez, 2, Luis Domecq, 3.
The game will follow the opening feature game at 2:30 p.m. when GCPC USA faces Spain on the 12th anniversary of the coveted International Cup.
GCPC USA will be tested by Spain as it puts its 11-year win streak on the line. It is the 12th time Grand Champions Polo Club has hosted a major international men’s game in Wellington.
GCPC USA, a 14-goal rated team, is led by veteran 8-goaler Nic Roldan, making his tenth appearance. Joining him are newcomers Louis Devaleix and Santos Bollini, at 24, the youngest member of the team and his father, Juan Bollini, a last minute replacement for starter Grant Ganzi. The 25-year-old 3-goaler was injured in the USPA North American Cup semifinals and is unable to play. At 61, Bollini is one of the oldest active players in the world.
Spain, also a 14-goal team, has a formidable lineup with 5-goaler Pelayo “Pela” Berazadi, 4-goaler Nicolas “Tuki” Ruiz Guinazu, 3-goaler Luis Domecq and 2-goaler Nicolas Alvarez.
Spain is one of the most improved countries in the polo world’s FIP (Federation of International Polo). Two months ago, Spain became the new European polo champion with a 9-6 win over Azerbaijan.
The foursome also represented Spain in the FIP World Polo Championships in November 2022 in Wellington. Guinazu, Domecq, Berazadi and Alvarez knocked off the United States (Hope Arellano, Agustin Arellano, Lucas Escobar, Nico Escobar), 11-10 in overtime. Berazadi scored the golden goal. Spain not only won the championship for the first time, but also became the first European team to ever win the title since the tournament was introduced 35 years ago.
Since 2012 in front of sellout crowds and worldwide CTV Sports audience, the GCPC USA has beaten England, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, Brazil, Azerbaijan, France, Argentina twice and Switzerland in the annual battle for the coveted cup.
In last year’s International Cup, GCPC USA won its 11th consecutive title with a 6-5 win over Switzerland. Tomas Ruiz Guinazu, 39, a member of the 2022 Swiss National Team, was named Most Valuable Player after dominating the game.
Other past GCPC USA team victories featuring a Who’s Who of polo players are:
2021: U.S. 10, Argentina 5, Grant Ganzi, Jason Crowder, Nic Roldan, Tommy Biddle.
2020, U.S. 7, Argentina 4, Grant Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan, Juan Bollini.
2019, U.S. 9, France, 8, Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Juancito Bollini.
2018, U.S. 9, Azerbaijan 7.5, Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Jeff Blake, Juan Bollini.
2017, U.S. 9, Brazil 7, Grant Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Julio Arellano, Mike Azzaro.
2016, U.S. 6, Uruguay, 3, Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Julio Arellano, Nic Roldan.
2015, U.S. 12, South Africa 7, Marc Ganzi, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan, Julio Arellano.
2014, U.S. 3, Mexico 2.5 and USA 2, Team USPA 1.5, Marc Ganzi, Wes Finlayson, Nic Roldan, Mason Wroe.
2013, U.S. 13, Chile 8, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Jeff Hall, Carlitos Gracida.
2012, U.S. 8.5, England 6, Marc Ganzi, Carlitos Gracida, Jeff Hall, Nic Roldan.
Award-winning Ken-Rose Catering will serve as the official caterer for VIPs, special guests and players. The menu’s theme will center around popular Spain food including various hors d’oeuvres, beef empanadas, paella and flan among desserts.
The doubleheader benefits The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the development, history and tradition of the sport of polo by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two exercise tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation, short work arena and stick-and-ball fields.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program at the turnkey facility.
Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events at its well-manicured 11 fields during the fall season. Admission is free and open to the public.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and October through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.